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Recipe for Yabrak (stuffed romaine leaves simmered in tomato broth) Yabrak (stuffed romaine leaves simmered in tomato broth)

(Kayana Szymczak for the Boston Globe)
April 4, 2012
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Makes about 30

If you prefer, omit the rice from the stuffing and substitute an equivalent amount of matzo farfel.


4ounces fresh spinach, chopped
2teaspoon salt, and more to taste
1medium onion, chopped
¾pound lean ground beef
½cup uncooked long-grain white rice
1teaspoon harissa or other spicy chili sauce
1teaspoon ground coriander
½cup chopped fresh mint leaves
cup chopped fresh

1tablespoon olive oil
Pepper, to taste
2large heads romaine


1. In a colander, combine the spinach and onion. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the salt. Set aside for 20 to 30 minutes for the salt to draw out moisture from the spinach. Rinse under cold water to remove the salt, then squeeze the spinach mixture by the handful to remove the water.

2. In a mixing bowl, combine the beef, rice, harissa or chili sauce, coriander, mint, parsley, egg, oil, remaining 1 teaspoon of salt, and pepper. Stir in the spinach mixture.

3. In a large flameproof casserole, bring about 3 inches of water to a boil. Cut off the bottom 2 inches from the stem ends of the romaine and separate the leaves. Use the larger green leaves for this dish. Add 4 or 5 romaine leaves at a time to the water and blanch for 10 to 15 seconds to soften them slightly and make them easier to roll. Using tongs, remove the leaves from the water and rince with cold water. Let sit in a colander while you blanch the remaining leaves.

4. Working with one leaf at a time, shave off the thick outer rib near the stem end if it’s too stiff to roll. On a board, place the leaf rib side down with the stem end closest to you. Place about 2 heaping tablespoons of the meat mixture about 2 inches up from the bottom of the leaf. Roll up the leaf from the bottom to cover the meat mixture, tuck in the two sides, and continue rolling up. Don’t make the rolls too tight because the rice will expand during cooking. Place the bundles seams down on a plate and roll the remaining leaves with the remaining filling in the same way.


¼cup olive oil
3cloves garlic, finely chopped
cups (about half of a 28-ounce can) ground peeled or crushed tomatoes
6cups water, or more if necessary
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. In the same pot used to blanch the lettuce, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring often, for 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes, 3 cups of the water, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes.

2. Using tongs, add the romaine bundles to the broth, placing them in two layers. Add enough additional water so the bundles are almost fully covered.

3. Bring the liquid to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer gently, uncovered, for about 1 hour or until the beef and rice filling is cooked. Add a little more water during cooking, if necessary, to keep the bundles moist.

4. Taste the broth and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Serve the stuffed romaine with some broth spooned over them.

Adapted from Brigitte Scheinmann

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